|(Above) ‘Four-month-old’ Imtiaz Ahmed. (Below) The birth certificate
Guwahati, Dec. 21: I was born in 1974, but I have had the Gauhati Municipal Corporation issue a birth certificate saying I am four months old.
The Telegraph has discovered that for a price as little as Rs 200, unscrupulous officials are distributing birth certificates without verifying whether the baby exists or not.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), which led a seven-year movement against illegal migrants, has pointed out that such “official documents” become handy tools for foreigners to stay in the state.
Under the Illegal Migrants (determination by tribunals) Act, applicable only in Assam — the onus of proving that one is an illegal migrant lies on the complainant and not the accused. The AASU is the most vocal among several organisations demanding the scrapping of the “biased” law.
Getting a birth certificate is simple — not even the mandatory certificate from a hospital or midwife is asked for — all you have to do is get hold of an employee in the civic body’s birth and death registrar’s office.
I posed as a relative of a government employee whose wife gave birth in a remote area in Nagaland and was transferred soon after.
“Now, he will have to go all the way to the Nagaland town to have his baby’s birth certificate. I was told by a friend that you can help us out,” I pleaded with the employee who seemed considerate enough.
An apparent stickler for rules, the polite official asked for a certificate from the midwife or the hospital where the baby was born. I explained to him that the baby was born at home with the assistance of an unofficial mid-wife. The employee seemed to understand the problem.
“Well, in that case a certificate has to be ‘managed’,” he replied and then added, “for that you will have to pay Rs 200”.
The amount, it was given to understand, will be used to “influence a government doctor” to issue a certificate.
The “deal” over and the money paid, the name of the new-born was given as Imtiaz Ahmed. The birth certificate was issued on September 19, 2003.
The document says: “This is to certify that the following information has been taken from the original record of birth which is the register for the month of September 2003 registration unit of Gauhati Municipal Corporation of district Kamrup of the state of Assam.”
The Telegraph decided to wait three months to find out if there is a verification of the “facts” provided in the birth certificate. There was none.